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Water Utility Hero of the Week: Erick Del Bosque, Sweetwater Authority

This feature highlights water utility employees in the San Diego region working during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure a safe, reliable and plentiful water supply. The water industry is among the sectors that are classified as essential. Sweetwater Authority Engineering Manager Erick Del Bosque is the Water Utility Hero of the Week.

Let’s Refill Lakes Mead & Powell Now

As of Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast for this year’s expected water supplies in the Colorado River is at 59% of average. That’s not good news.

If that prediction proves true, this will be one of the driest water years since Lake Powell was constructed nearly 60 years ago. The volume of water stored in Lake Powell each year is affected by three primary factors: the amount of water flowing into the reservoir after ‘Upper Basin‘ water users have extracted water for their use, minus water released from the reservoir to support Lower Basin water users, and minus evaporation from the reservoir itself. Lake Powell will lose – by my estimation — about 22 feet of water this year, or about 2.1 million acre-feet of storage.

At that point, the reservoir will be 60% empty.

Dems’ HEROES Act Includes Billions for Utility, Ratepayer Assistance

Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday released the HEROES Act, the latest proposed relief package to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges resulting from it. The proposal includes $1.5 billion in funding for water ratepayer assistance to help struggling households pay their water and sewer service bills.

Coalition to Take Major Step in Acquiring Potter Valley Project from PG&E

A partnership of numerous Northern California agencies intends to file an initial plan on Wednesday to acquire the Potter Valley project from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., multiple sources confirmed.

Opinion: $300 Million for Repairs is Great, But San Diego Sewage Fiasco Still Stinks

It was an immense relief Tuesday when Democratic California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and San Diego-area House members Susan Davis, Mike Levin, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas jointly announced that the Environmental Protection Agency was formally proceeding with a $300 million plan to fix broken sewage infrastructure that has allowed sewage from the Tijuana River to frequently foul South County beaches. While it seems that amount won’t be sufficient to address all the improvements and repairs that are needed, it amounts to recognition that the U.S. government has an obligation to protect San Diego’s beaches.

Sewage-Contaminated Water from Tijuana River Forces Silver Strand Closure

San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health Wednesday extended the existing water contact closure area at the Tijuana Slough and Imperial Beach shorelines north to include the Silver Strand shoreline.

Coronavirus is Stalling Air Quality, Pollution Rules, Even in Eco-Minded California

As experts warn that exposure to pollution can increase the risk of dying from COVID-19, an array of powerful industries is pressuring California regulators to delay or roll back air quality and climate regulations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Engineers and Wetland Scientists Face Challenges with Regulatory Changes to the Clean Water Act

This year’s changes to the Clean Water Act have made the already-challenging work of scientists and engineers in water planning and management exponentially more difficult.

California Sues EPA for Suspending Pollution Enforcement During Coronavirus Pandemic

California, along with eight other states, sued the Trump administration Wednesday over the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to stop requiring companies to monitor and report air and water pollution during the coronavirus pandemic.

Three days after receiving a request from the American Petroleum Institute to halt pollution enforcement, the EPA’s compliance director, Susan Parker Bodine, announced a new policy March 26. Retroactive to March 13, when President Trump had declared a state of emergency over COVID-19, Bodine said, businesses could decide for themselves when it would no longer be practical to monitor pollution and report it to federal, state and local agencies.

Opinion: Poseidon’s Desalination Plant Threatens our Climate and Human Right to Clean Water

As California continues to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, leaders must ensure fundamental human rights like clean water. It is essential that we do not allow this crisis to tip the scales in favor of polluters and private water corporations.